Today we celebrate a new feast in the calendar of the Church: Mary the Mother of the Church. The plan for this feast was issued in the decree released on February 11, 2018 by Cardinal Robert Sarah of the Congregation of Divine Worship. Pope Francis has called for the Church to celebrate this feast on the Monday after Pentecost, for not only is Mary the Mother of Jesus, but since we as the People of God participate in the life Jesus as members of the Body of Christ she is our mother too.
In the record of the New Testament, we can read how Mary is not only present from the very beginning, in her willingness to say yes to being the bearer of the God Man, Jesus the Christ, she is present to guide him throughout his life, into the beginning of ministry, is present at his death, and she is present with the Apostles at the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Through each of these accounts Mary reveals by word and action to also be the model of discipleship.
Mary, answered Gabriel’s request to conceive and bear Jesus, with her response of “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). Mary then went with haste to share the good news with Elizabeth and to assist her in her pregnancy of John the Baptist. Mary, after the birth of Jesus, is visited by the shepherds and upon hearing their news from the angelic host, she “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). Mary and Joseph care for, protect, and guide Jesus in the Jewish faith as he matures and grows into a young man.
Mary was also present at the beginning of his ministry when she says to the servants at the wedding at Cana, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). Mary was present also in today’s reading from the Gospel of John: When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home (Jn 19:26-27). Mary was pierced with sorrow when the lance was thrust through his side as blood and water flowed, and suffered in witnessing the death of Jesus, her Son. Mary was then present as the Church would be birthed at Pentecost at the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14).
Mary, the mother of Jesus, is also our mother, the Mother of the Church. We do not worship Mary, but seek her intercession and guidance as we would our own mothers. We also look to her as a model for living as disciples of Jesus. May we follow her examples as outlined in the New Testament. May we ponder the wonders and mysteries of God working in our lives. May we resist the temptation of denial, not run from, but embrace the sorrow and pain experienced in this fallen world so to receive Jesus whose arms are wide open to receive us, as he did on the cross, and so bestow upon us his consolation and healing from God our Father.
But may we not stop there. May we open ourselves to the love and empowerment of the Holy Spirit such that we may say yes to bearing Christ and going with haste to share the Good News of his life with others. May we resist the temptation of indifference and uncaring and instead help and support those we come in contact with who are in need. May we do what Jesus tells us to do to make his Church relevant and vibrant in our time.
Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us!
Photo: Statue of Jesus and Mary outside Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, Oceanside, CA, this past Christmas
Link for the decree ON THE CELEBRATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY MOTHER OF THE CHURCH: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20180211_decreto-mater-ecclesiae_en.html
Mass readings for Monday, May 21, 2018: